Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition issues summary of 2008 legislative session

The second session of the 105th Tennessee General Assembly adjourned on Wednesday, May 21, 2008. During the session, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) tracked 125 bills and was active lobbying on a number of issues.

Education: TTPC worked against a bill which would have banned public school teachers from discussing sexual diversity. The House K-12 Subcommittee sent the bill to the Tennessee Department of Education for study. We were part of a broad coalition of opponents which included the American Civil Liberties Union and the Tennessee Equality Project. TTPC also supported Safe School and anti-gang bills and which should provide more protection for GLBT youth against harassment and bullying.

Employment: Although there was no specific bill introduced that would ban discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, TTPC continued to educate legislators about the need for such legislation.

Family Issues: TTPC vigorously opposed a bill which would ban unmarried, cohabiting couples in a sexual relationship from adopting children in 2007. TTPC viewed this bill as moralizing and discriminatory. The Senate sponsor decided to have the adoption issue sent to another Summer Study Committee. We will continue to monitor this issue and will oppose any efforts to limit the rights of GLBT people to adopt.

Hate Crimes: TTPC continued to educate legislators on the prevalence of hate crimes in the Transgender community. TTPC has lobbied to expand the Hate Crimes Penalty Enhancement Act of 2000, which does not cover Transgender persons,
to include gender identity or expression.

Health Care: TTPC continued to educate legislators on the need to expand health care coverage and resources to as many people as possible, as long as that coverage was not denied to anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Personal Documents: Last summer, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations looked at the issue of requiring new Photo Identification to vote. They made no recommendation on the issue, but due to a recent U.S.
Supreme Court decision authorizing the use of such documents, we anticipate seeing this issue return in 2009. TTPC will continue to oppose any legislation we believe will disfranchise transgender voters.

Birth Certificates: TTPC had two bills introduced which would permit gender changes on birth certificates. These bills were sponsored by Senator Beverly Marrero (D-Memphis), Representative Michael Kernell (D-Memphis), and Representative Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis). Unfortunately, one version had an amendment added that was proposed by House Minority Leader Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol) which would create new categories of "MTF" and "FTM" on birth certificates.
TTPC opposed this amendment and agreed with the sponsors to withdraw the bill for 2008. We appreciate the support we received from those who opposed the Mumpower Amendment and will continue working with our sponsors to get this
important legislation passed in 2008.

Relationships: There were no new bills introduced which would have limited the rights of GLBT persons to have their relationships recognized and honored. TTPC was prepared to oppose any such bills.

The 1st Session of the 106th General Assembly will convene on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. TTPC will continue to work for equal rights legislation including transgender persons, and will continue to oppose any legislation denying
equal rights to all.

Marisa Richmond

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